Compatible Monitors for MacBook Air, Pro, and Apple Mini
If you’ve recently purchased a MacBook or Apple Mini, then you’re likely searching for the right monitor that is not only compatible with your Mac, but also has similar quality.
While Apple makes a great product, their monitor options are pricey and outdated. The Thunderbolt Display, for example, was released back in 2011 and still retails for around $1,000.
Today, there are several options that cost much less and, in my opinion have better quality. I’ll start with budget options and move up to monitors fit for professional editors.
6 Good Mac Compatible Monitors for 2018
Dell U2415 UltraSharp Monitor
An Affordable 16:10 IPS Option:
One of the more popular monitors to use with the MacBook Pro and Mini is Dell’s UltraSharp U2415 IPS monitor. With an affordable price of under $300 you get a screen that gives you a little more vertical room at 16:10, and an average of 99% sRGB coverage at a deltaE <3.
Not only does
the Dell UltraSharp U2415
have wide viewing angles, vibrant colors, and accuracy, it has a plethora of connectivity options. These include 2 x HDMI, 1 Mini DisplayPort, a 1.2 DisplayPort, 5 USB 3.0 ports, and more.
Additional features I like include its flexible tilt, swivel, pivot, and height adjustments as well as the eco-friendly low power consumption. In addition, DisplayPort compatibility is a plus.
Overall, the Dell U2415 is a quality monitor and gives you a ton of features for the money you pay.
Dell Ultra HD 4k 2715Q
If you need a few more pixels to work with, I recommend you take a look at the Dell Ultra HD 4k 2715Q.
It’s an excellent option for photo or video editors that need color accuracy and a 4k screen. Specs include a 99% sRGB coverage, a color depth of 1.07 billion colors, and a deltaE of <3. Best of all is that it comes out of the box calibrated enough for most to use.
In addition to having fantastic screen clarity, the P2715Q is also fully adjustable. The included stand provides pivol, swivel, tilt, and cable management.
At around $500, this is a great option for any MacBook Pro. It’s plug and play and shouldn’t require any extra effort. That, along with it’s value, make it a
A Good Budget IPS Monitor
HP Pavilion 27xw
If wide viewing angles are more important to you than color accuracy, you may be able save quite a bit of money by going with HP’s Pavilion 27xw. This large 27″ IPS display comes in at under $200 but still has a great picture and overall, is good quality.
For design, the monitor has a contemporary thin profile with a modern white look and silver colors that includes tilt adjustment.
For connectivity, it provides 2 HDMI ports and a VGA port.
While it doesn’t have the color accuracy of the Dell models above, it still is fairly color accurate.
Overall, this is one of the better looking monitors on the market and a steal at just around $200. It’s ideal for those who want an IPS panel but don’t necessarily need professional color accuracy.
If you need additional screen real estate and color accuracy, consider the Asus PB278Q which is the best seller right now in the IPS panel space. The new PLS LED backlit display allows more light than traditional IPS displays and 100% sRGB color reproduction.
Although similar in name with the previous monitor I mentioned, the U2312HM does not share the same aspect ratio sporting a standard 16:9 1920x1080p resolution. Like other models in the line it’s environmentally conscious using less energy than other similar monitors and containing no mercury.
This model is similar to the model above in that it is DisplayPort compatible with a color gamut of 82% but costs around $100 less at just under $200. For the money it’s hard to beat and especially if you don’t need the extra vertical space.
A Cheap Option for Your Mac Desktop or Laptop Computer 2018
If you don’t need something that’s color accurate or has wide viewing angles, then the Viewsonic VX2453MH makes a great budget alternative to the pricey Thunderbolt Display. This monitor is large but not overbearing at 24 inches and it’s sleek enough to fit into just about any type of office environment.
One thing I like about it is just how great of a picture you get for your money. While it’s not an IPS panel it still looks great and has deeper blacks than I expected. This is partially due to its 50,000,000:1 dynamic contrast ratio, glossy panel, and full HD 1920 x 1080 resolution.
Overall the VX 2452MH is a great option for those of you on a budget. If you want additional screen real estate there’s also the BenQ GL2760H 27 Inch monitor which is on sale this month for just under $190.
Dell UltraSharp U2711 27-inch Widescreen Monitor (WQHD)
If you want an IPS monitor alternative to the Thunderbolt display, then the Dell UltraSharp series should be one of the first places you look. In general, you get wider color gamut for a slightly better price.
Vs. the New Thunderbolt Display
The Dell Ultra Sharp U2711 model is probably the best alternative and overall the Thunderbolt’s biggest competitor. One of the reasons I went with it is because it’s completely Mac compatible and it produces, in my opinion, a better picture overall. This is because it can reproduce more colors (1.07 billion) with its 30 bit Pro IPS panel setup (8bit + A-FRC configuration) vs. the Thunderbolt’s 24 bit 16.7 million color panel. It also has a significantly lower response time at 6ms so it’s slightly less blurry while I’m working with video.
While there are certainly other reasons to purchase the Thunderbolt Display the price, along with the better picture were more important to me.
Technical specifications include 2560 x 1440 resolution, 178Â°(H) / 178Â°(V) viewing angle, 0.233mm pixel pitch, dynamic contrast ratio DC 80000:1, D-Sub, 2 DVI, HDMI, Component, Composite, USB 2.0 (1 up 4 downstream), and DisplayPort connectors, and Height, Swivel, Tilt adjustment. It also includes a 3 year parts and labor warranty vs. the Thunderbolt standard one-year limited warranty.
A Good Mac Gaming Monitor
The BenQ RL2455HM is my choice for best gaming monitor of 2014. BenQ is obsessed with finding the best option for gamers and this monitor, used in Major League Gaming tournaments, boasts little to no input lag.
With a 1ms gray to gray response time this monitor is ideal for gamers who want to eliminate motion blur. Overall, for the price, you’re in and out of the gate for well under $200 in a monitor that won’t slow you down due to laggy responsiveness.
Choosing the Right Monitor for Your Mac
Monitor Terms to Know
TN vs. IPS Panels
TN or “twisted nematic” panels are standard for most LCD screens. This is because they cost less to produce, use less energy, and have faster response times than IPS panel monitors. This leads to a better overall viewing experience for movies and games. However, TN panels are not ideal for photo editing monitors as they can only reproduce 6 bits per color (RGB) for a total of 18 bits. IPS or “In-Plane Switching” panel monitors are desirable for photo editing as they have more accurate color reproduction because they use 8 bits per color or 24-bit color depth. With 24-bit color depth or 256 colors for red, green, and blue, a display can accurately protray “true color” or 256x256x256 which is 16.7 million colors. Some more recent S-IPS panel monitors can produce beyond true color in reaching 30, 36, and even 48 bits. IPS monitors also have a wider viewing angle which allows for accurate color for almost any angle. In general you should expect to pay considerably more for an IPS monitor when compared to a TN panel monitor although this has changed somewhat in the last couple years as many budget IPS monitor options have been released.
IPS Panels have the wide viewing angles and accurate color reproduction(display 24-bit color depth) desired by most artists and photographers. In the past slow response times limited IPS monitors ability to watch and edit video. Much of the problems with response times have been solved; however, IPS panels are still not ideal for watching movies or gaming. Most IPS panel monitors still go no lower than 8ms for response times and the best gaming monitors have been designed with response times as low as 1ms.
LED Vs. LCD
LED or “light emitting diode” technology is used as a backlight to light the thin “liquid crystal display” or LCD. LED backlit monitors are thinner, lighter, have higher contrast, use less energy, and don’t emit mercury like CCFL or “Cold cathode fluorescent Lamps” backlit LCD monitors. Until recently CCFL LCDs were cheaper than LED LCD monitors; however, much of this price differential is no longer there.
Full high definition resolution is considered 1920 x 1080p resolution which simply shows the amount of pixels in a display by the width, 1920, and the height, 1080. Some monitors go beyond high definition like Apple’s Thunderbolt Display which has a 2560×1440 resolution. This is again desirable for photo editing as it gives you more pixels to work with.
The time it takes for a pixel to go from one end of the color spectrum to the other or from black to white and back. Most manufacturers list the GTG or gray to gray response time in order to inflate their overall numbers.
Contrast ratio measures the deepest black and whitest white. New LED technology can completely turn off LED lights to produce deeper and more accurate blacks.
Apple Thunderbolt I/O Technology
From Amazon: “Developed by Intel with collaboration from Apple, high-speed Thunderbolt I/O (input/output) technology delivers an amazing 10 gigabits per second of transfer speeds in both directions. The Thunderbolt port allows you to connect to new Thunderbolt-compatible peripherals as well as existing USB and FireWire peripherals using simple adapters. You’ll be able to move data up to 20 times faster than with USB 2.0 and more than 12 times faster than with FireWire 800, and you can daisy-chain up to six high-speed devices without using a hub. Thunderbolt also supports DisplayPort for high resolution displays and works with existing adapters for HDMI, DVI, and VGA displays.”
Glossy Vs. Matte Screens
Although pictures can sometimes appear more brilliant with a glossy screen the glare can sometimes be a distraction. If you purchase a monitor with a glossy screen be sure to find one with an anti-glare coating.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
Open Discussion Area
Dell is no for Mac on July 12, 2018:
Also confirm Dell monitor is not for Mac. If you have a Mac , do not buy Dell monitor.
Dell Monitors on February 21, 2018:
I purchased a Dell UltraSharp U2718Q, connected it via HDMI to a USC-C adapter to a 2016 MacBook Pro. It does not connect/work when the computer is on, and only works when you have it connected when booting up. Dell support sucks, they only do Windows (6 calls). Can’t figure out ways to adjust things and can’t do a firmware update without work arounds. Looking for new options for a 4k, 27″ monitor.
anon on August 23, 2017:
Dell U2913WM does not work with iMax 27″ 2017
mpl on July 16, 2017:
THE DELL U2415 DOES NOT WORK WITH A MACBOOK PRO 15″ 2016 !!!!!!!!!
Kirstin on November 16, 2016:
I purchased my HP 27 inch pavilion a 1.5 years. I am a novice and was told that it worked well with my MacBook Pro. But constantly the monitor goes to sleep, no signal recognized after I’ve used it for two hours and a matter what I do, unplug the cable’s, Unplug the outlet, any strategy I can come up with and it still is asleep. Contacted HP and they’ll charge me $45 just to ask a ? And it doesn’t have a port for speakers. As noted above obviously the MacBook Pro isn’t compatible on the web that shows the inability to connect with the drivers but I’ve ignorant and don’t know how to resolve the issue I’m now looking at a replacement
No Name on August 31, 2016:
There is no mention of Audio. I am looking for a good monitor (non-glare, LED, 24″ and not breaking the bank) to pair with an “Apple mini”, but I want good audio built into the monitor (just like I had with my old iMAC). Can you advise please? Anonymous
anonymous on June 02, 2013:
Is this monitor compatible with Mac mini? I like Bang & Olufsen audio.
anonymous on April 16, 2013:
@anonymous: Yes. It is compatible. Almost all monitors will work fine with your macbooks, mac minis, and mac pros. Although you might need to buy a 30 dollar cable from your local apple, or best buy store. You can also buy the adapter from Amazon for a few bucks cheaper.